As someone who was born and brought up in India but is now living and working in Scotland, I have always tried to hold in the same frame my two worlds. But keeping in touch across different time zones and caring long distance for loved ones has not been easy. In some ways, the outbreak of covid-19 and especially India having sealed its borders from even Indian passportholders living abroad has been anxiety-inducing in that it forecloses even the possibility of travel were the need to arise. But in other ways, the pandemic has brought together my two worlds which are otherwise worlds apart. At times, the appalling inadequacy of state response has made me wonder if I am really living in a ‘developed’ country. At other times, I have chosen to focus on how the pandemic has strengthened old bonds of family and friendship (we are connecting a lot more on skype/whatsapp while balancing working from home with childcare) and opened up new windows (of time and space) for radical care and solidarity (through webinars and accelerated transnational activism). Each time I fret about what the future holds, I remind myself that, beyond the corona lens, the tree of life continues to grow and life-sustaining water continues to flow through the two places (Delhi represented by Qutab Minar and Edinburgh symbolised by Calton Hill in the painting) at the centre of my phenomenological world.
Radhika Govinda is a feminist sociologist whose work is on the gender politics of development, intersectionality and feminist knowledge production. She lives and works in Edinburgh, and can be reached at Radhika.Govinda@ed.ac.uk. Twitter: @GovindaRadhika